Category Archives: Reviewings

Our spiffing film reviews. Completely random, don’t expect us to plan what we watch! We’re spontaneous like. Use the search bar to look for a specific film you want our brilliant opinions on, or just peruse our collection to your leisure.

Exclusive Review: The Conjuring

The_Conjuring_1Director:  James Wan

Writers: Chad Hayes, Carey Hayes

Principal Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Lili Taylor 

Horror, my favourite genre; well one of them. Yet it’s a genre in a terrible state of affairs at the moment. Especially mainstream horror, the bigger studios are playing safe, removing the shocks, controlling the gore and driving films into a ratings band that they shouldn’t be in. While US horror films are in a major lull, I look to the Indie and foreign language films to fuel my horror needs, they seem to be pushing the genre forward, France and Spain seem to be leading the way, while the East is always a good place to look for a decent horror film.

So you may be wondering how I’ve seen this film, a month before general release, well I have Frightfest and the infamous Sleepy Q to thank for that. This was our “Thank you” film for buying tickets to this years festival, braving the elements etc etc; though I only joined the queue at 6am. Some had been there all Friday ; hats off to them brave souls! We also got a video introduction by James Wan.

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The Conjuring, claims to be based on real case studies by Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine (Vera Farmiga) Warren, who’s most famous case study happens to be Amityville. Though a little research shows that while the Warren’s did investigate paranormal events at the Peron’s family home the story has been embellished for the big screen, we shouldn’t be surprised really, but on the plus side knowing this now makes no difference to how I feel about this film.

James Wan’s previous film Insidious was 2/3’s brilliant to 1/3 average, the average section being the final act. The build up and overall creepiness of this film showed a lot of potential in this young film maker. Yet he undoes some of his hard work with that final section and forced final scare. Though he has filmed a second Insidious, which I’m looking forward too.

Even more after The Conjuring,  for me this is Wan’s best film so far, he doesn’t let it fall apart at the end. The film builds nicely and then explodes into a relentless final act which really had me unsure of the fate of the Warren’s and the Peron’s. It opens  with a good introduction to what the Warrens do and how they see the paranormal world. Wilson (also the star of Insidious) and Farmiga are very good here, very solid in their roles. Then we meet the Peron family, the house and shortly after that the paranormal happenings start. From here the tension builds, the feeling of unease while we are around the Peron family grows and grows. There are obvious moments, but Wan also deals us some curve ball moments as well, and I admit I jumped a couple of times (and I never really jump!). Yet it was the creepiness of it all which got me, on numerous occasions I felt the hairs stand up on my neck; a great sign I am enjoying it.

As for the rest of the cast I have to praise Lili Taylor in her role as Carolyn Perron, she is brilliant, never over plays it and looks genuinely scared at times! The rest of the Perron family are all good, the kids especially. I really had no issues with much in this film at all;  maybe I was just happy that I was finally enjoying a horror film from America.

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Yet all this will be undone if you watch the trailer, even the hand clapping teaser,  the trailer which opened this weekend on the cinemas had 3 or 4 of the best scares in it, my advice is just see the film. If you are in the cinema and the trailer comes on close your eyes, it’s a much better experience if you don’t know what’s about to happen!

This is the best horror film I’ve seen this year, I am curious to see how well it plays on a 2nd viewing, and I will be there on opening weekend. This is a film to see with a full house and hopefully some people who haven’t seen the trailer!

Though my faith in US horror isn’t restored this is a big step in the right direction; yet for every really good film like this we have 5 or 6 bad ones like Texas Chainsaw 3D to drag us back down. I would have really enjoyed seeing The Conjuring on Empire’s screen 1 in the Frightfest festival – I really think it would have played very well.

5/5 – Maybe not – but in terms of the horror films this year it is!

The Conjuring @ IMDB

Miami Vice (2006)

DVD Review by Mike

Miami Vice

Directed by : Michael Mann

Written by : Michael Mann & Anthony Yerkovich

Principal Cast : Colin Farrell , Jamie Foxx , Li Gong , Naomie Harris 

I do enjoy Michael Mann’s films, I think he is a director with great style and possible one of the best night directors working today.  As for his TV show Miami Vice, it was one of my favourite programmes growing up, entertaining, good characters and some great plots, I rarely missed an episode.

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Keeping the style

Now as for the film, I do recall it opening to mixed reviews, maybe some were just expecting a big screen version; this isn’t what they got. Instead the film was quite removed from the show, it was dark, serious and far more grittier, with quite a different style of writing. The script dropped the humour, I don’t recall a single chuckle throughout the film. Yet I like it, the danger, the fear seems much more heightened and realistic than the show. I’m not saying the show never had some tense, exciting episodes it did, but I get the feeling that this film is Mann’s original vision for the TV show; maybe the TV executives just didn’t feel the viewers were ready for 22 episodes of this gritty, hard hitting style of TV! Yet in today’s TV world I think it would be a major hit!

Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx come in and take on Don Johnson’s Sunny Crockett and Philip Michael Thomas’s Ricardo Tubbs respectively. Both do superb jobs for me, they are different takes on the characters, more focused, ruthless and of course much more serious!

Foxx as Tubbs
Foxx as Tubbs

Though Farrell does take some of Johnson’s style with the clothes he wears. Foxx just brings the pain; he is seriously bad ass in this role. Naomie Harris plays Trudy Joplin, another member of the vice unit, and a love interest for Tubbs. Though I don’t recall that happening in the show; yet it’s used in the plot with good effect. Overall the cast is great except for Harris the rest of the Vice squad are bit players though, as Farrell and Foxx command the screen time; as you would expect.  There is no introduction to the characters as the film opens in the middle of Vice raid; maybe Mann feels that the majority of people would know these characters and building any back story is pointless.

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Crockett & Isabella

On the other side of the coin, Li Gong,  Luis Tosar and John Ortiz all make credible criminals, though John Ortiz seems the go to guy for a South American drug runner nowadays.

It’s a typical Miami Vice plot, drug running, double crosses and kidnapping, nothing new here. It really doesn’t need to be anything else, this is the basis of the show and it works, why change it or make it something else. The action is superb though it’s not a full blown action movie, Mann strips it away to give it a realistic feel, the shootouts are fantastic, the sound is stunning. Also the boat running scenes are excellent and of course the night scenes are a visual treat, but I expect that from Mann.

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Tubbs & Crockett

The soundtrack is very good, with Mann using a cover of In The Air Tonight; possible the most famous scene and song from the TV series, though the cover isn’t as good as the original.

It was great to revisit this film, I really enjoyed watching it again, though it’s made me want to dig out my Miami Vice TV boxsets. I feel the changes Mann has made work, they give the film it’s own identity and not just a big screen extended episode like some TV to Cinema films have suffered from recently.

Rating : 4 / 5

Find Miami Vice at IMDB.

REVIEW: Straightheads (2007)

straightpostDirected and Written by : Dan Reed

Starring : Danny Dyer , Gillian AndersonAnthony Calf , Ralph Brown.

Straightheads is a revenge film, and would happily be filed in the “Revenge Film” section of the local rental store, if they had such a section, and if those stores still existed. However, it would be doing it a great disservice to label it as such and leave it at that. It is a revenge film done right. It isn’t the cheesy kind of 80s film which takes a shallow look at the victim-aggressor relationship and wraps it up in corny one liners. Rather, it revels in a surprising amount of depth and moral complexity, happy to occupy the grey areas of the moralistic compass, rather than live at the extremes.

Continue reading REVIEW: Straightheads (2007)

REVIEW: The Science of Sleep (2006)

Review by Joe Goff

Directed by: Michel Gondry

Written by: Michel Gondry

Starring: Gael García BernalCharlotte GainsbourgAlain Chabat

The second major feature by “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” director Michel Gondry is an unusual glimpse into the mind of the surreal French-born director.

The film follows Stephan (Gael Garcia-Bernal), a blue-collar office drone by day, but creative genius by night. In his dreams he runs a topical talk-show about his own life and subconscious thoughts. He thinks of the right thing to say just when he needs to, he can talk to the girl of his dreams without batting an eyelid and most of all he can say exactly what he wants about the people around him without the inevitable repercussions Continue reading REVIEW: The Science of Sleep (2006)

REVIEW: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

Directed by: Justin Lin

Written by: Chris Morgan, Gary Scott Thompson

Starring: Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, Dwayne Johnson, Luke Evans, Michelle Rodriguez, Gina Carano, Tyrese Gibson, Ludacris, Jordana Brewster, Sung Kang

It’s hard to see how Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel), Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and their merry band of illegal street-racing, bank-robbing, best buds can keep on getting even fastererer and furiouserer but, in their sixth film in the hugely successful Fast and Furious franchise, they’ve made a damn fine attempt at it. The sixth film in a franchise built ostensibly on tough guys driving fast cars has no right to be this exhilarating. A winning combination of audacious set pieces, outrageous stunts, brawny banter and plot twists, Fast & Furious 6 unleashes more than just an incongruous ampersand, blowing its predecessors out of the water on every count.

Continue reading REVIEW: Fast & Furious 6 (2013)

REVIEW: Alex Cross (2012)

alex cross posterA homicide detective is pushed to the brink of his moral and physical limits as he tangles with a ferociously skilled serial killer who specializes in torture and pain.

DirectedRob Cohen

StarsTyler PerryEdward BurnsMatthew Fox

What we think: Whoever decided not to recast Morgan Freeman as Alex Cross should be fired on the spot.

Freeman whose played the character twice already in the very good Kiss the Girls and the abject Along Came a Spider would have surely been the front runner here.

Instead they chose Tyler Perry, someone whose more famous for cross (no pun intended) dressing into the character Aunt Madea – surely alarm bells should have been ringing?

Alex Cross is loosely based on the novel written by James Patterson and focuses on the Detective come Dr as he goes head to head with a venomous serial killer called Picasso (Matthew Fox) who specializes in torture and pain.

Fox is practically unrecognizable as the softly spoken and all over nice guy Jack we were so used to seeing in Lost, here he’s a shaven headed psychopath with an exceptional physique.

Continue reading REVIEW: Alex Cross (2012)

REVIEW: Session 9 (2001)

session9 posterTensions rise within an asbestos cleaning crew as they work in an abandoned mental hospital with a horrific past that seems to be coming back.

DirectedBrad Anderson

Stars:  David CarusoStephen GevedonPaul Guilfoyle

What we think:

Few horror films have had much of an impact on me in terms of getting inside your head – I don’t go in much for blood splatter and gore.

I’m not a huge fan of the mainstream horror films, although some have been enjoyable. It’s always the hidden gems that really have an impact that make you want to sleep with the light on.

Forget torture porn, something which I fail to see any benefit from; watching a group of stereotypical teens getting ripped to shreds is not my idea of a great horror film.

I want to be impressed and terrified, not disgusted and repulsed.

Continue reading REVIEW: Session 9 (2001)

REVIEW: The Chaser (2008)

Directed by: Hong-jin Na

Written by: Won-Chan Hong, Shinho Lee, Hong-jin Na

Starring: Yun-seok Kim, Jung-woo Ha, Yeong-hie Seo

Pimp Joon-ho (Kim Yun-seok) has a problem. Or, rather, he has several problems in the shape of his small coterie of call girls shrinking ever smaller, employees going missing one by one in the previous few months. As a former policeman, nay detective, as he is wont to profess to anyone who’ll listen and usually those who won’t, Joon-ho isn’t going to stand too much more of this but, unable to deduce if his lost girls are on the lam, have been sold on, or just escaped the life altogether, he hasn’t made much headway.

Now down to his last illicit employee Mi-jin (Seo Yeong-hie), Joon-ho is getting desperate. Mi-jin for her part, is desperate too. Wishing to make good her getaway from her uncouth employer, but sick and with a young daughter to support, Mi-jin grits her teeth for one last customer. Unfortunately, that customer is creepy young client Young-min (Ha Joong-woo) who has some extremely ugly surprises in store for his evening’s carnal companion, Mi-jin.

Discovering that Young-min is actually a repeat customer, and that all his girls who vanished had been booked in with him, Joon-ho sets out to find him. But with no address to go on, no signal from Mi-jin’s phone, and no help from his former buddies on the force, as Mi-jin’s life hangs in the balance Joon-ho is embroiled in an investigation, a chase, that will change him forever…

REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

Directed by: J.J. Abrams

Written by: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof

Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Benedict Cumberbatch, Simon Pegg, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Peter Weller

I need to get this out of the way first: I’m not a fan of Star Trek as a franchise. In fact, I can’t stand it. I’ve given the various TV series’ a go, as well as a couple of the original films (I forget which ones), and I just can’t get on with it. So you would be forgiven if you believed that anything negative I may have to say about it might come from some sort of negative bias against the franchise and concept of Star Trek. However that is simply not the case.

(From here on out I’m going to refer to the 2009 J.J. Abrams ‘reboot’ as the “first film”, being as it is the first part of a new timeline within that universe)

When I saw the trailers for the first Star Trek film, I was initially very hesitant seeing as it was a new film in a franchise that we’ve already established I don’t like; however on the other hand I thought that it looked like it could be an enjoyable sci-fi action romp, and so on that basis I went to see it. To my complete surprise, I absolutely loved it. This had nothing to do with the ‘Trek’ factor – as a film in its own right, ignoring its origins, it had the right mix of humour, action, sci-fi, adventure, plot and a great cast and characters. It was really fun to watch. I already knew enough about Star Trek to get a lot of the references peppered throughout, without getting bogged down by them. On this basis, I was extremely looking forward to the next installment, the newly-released Star Trek Into Darkness.

Continue reading REVIEW: Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)

REVIEW: Animal Kingdom (2011)

animal kingdom posterTells the story of seventeen year-old J (Josh) as he navigates his survival amongst an explosive criminal family and the detective who thinks he can save him.

DirectedDavid Michôd

Stars:  James FrechevilleBryce LindemannJoel Edgerton

What we think: Animal Kingdom can join a very successful long line of Australian films to pack a heavy handed punch to its audience.

Such films as Chopper, The Boys and Romper Stomper all hailed Aussie filmmaking as being up there with the best of them, you only have to look at the amount of talent that have gone on to bigger things.

Set in urban Melbourne during the mid-1980s Animal Kingdom is a hard look at one criminal family and the young boy they look to devour after his mum dies of a drug overdose.

Continue reading REVIEW: Animal Kingdom (2011)